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The Truth About Supplement Recommendations

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5 BIG Food Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

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by Wendy Goldman in Healthy Eating

I’m constantly asked about current dietary and supplement “recommendations”. I’ll explain why I put the word recommendations in quotes in a minute, but first, some historical perspective.

Western/ modern medicine is only about a hundred years old. Really. Before that, it was all blood-letting and leeches. No matter what your problem was, they’d bleed you or put leeches on you to do the job of bleeding you.

A medical book written in 1842 goes on for ninety pages complaining about the barbaric practices of leeches and blood-letting. So, yeah, they’ve come a really long way since then and made astounding progress. And, we have to remember that modern medicine in its current form is still in its infancy. They’re still trying to figure out how things in the body work. They’re really good at emergency situations and surgery, but they suck at treating chronic pain and chronic disease. That’s because they just haven’t had time to figure out all the science, yet.

I want to be clear that I’m not bashing modern medicine, although sometimes it’s really tempting with some of the things they do…

I actually come from a modern medicine and science background. I used to do biomedical research at one of the top medical schools in the country, and I worked inside the system, so I know what I’m talking about. And, I chose to practice Chinese medicine, rather than modern medicine. I see patients all the time with chronic conditions that western medicine doesn’t have good answers for, and Chinese medicine does.

Now let’s look at Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine has been used consistently throughout China and Asia for well over two thousand years. The whole system was put down in a book written 2,000 years ago, and parts of it were written down even earlier than that. Some of it is 3,000 years old. So we’re comparing modern medicine that’s 100-150 years old, with a system of medicine that’s over 2,000 years old. Think about that for a minute. A hundred years versus thousands of years.

Now consider that Asians having been using this medicine consistently for all of those thousands of years. They’re not stupid – if it didn’t work, they wouldn’t keep doing it.

We’re brainwashed in the west to believe that modern medicine is the only medicine, that there are no other systems of medicine, and everything else is quackery. That’s just arrogant and stupid. (There’s plenty of quackery out there, to be sure, and Chinese medicine is not in that category.)

Now let’s look at nutrition from both perspectives. The first vitamins discovered, Vitamins B and C, were only discovered in the 1950’s. But the study of nutrition in the west really didn’t get started until the mid-1980’s. That’s only about 30 years ago.

Remember when I said the whole system of Chinese medicine was written down about 2,000 years ago? Nutrition is part of Chinese medicine, and the whole system of nutrition was written down in the same book! So now we’re comparing modern nutrition that’s 30 years old with a system that’s 2,000 years old. Is your mind blown yet? It should be.

Here’s another reality check: most of the study of modern nutrition, vitamins and supplements is done by… supplement companies. Yup, the people trying to sell you supplements are the ones doing the research and making the recommendations. Yes, some good research has come out of this, but I see a pretty big conflict of interest. That’s why I put the word “recommendations” in quotes above.

So my recommendation is to take supplement recommendations with a (proverbial, not literal) “grain of salt”. Really, the same goes for most diet and nutrition recommendations. Who’s making the recommendation? Is it a supplement company? Is it a company selling their special “diet” foods, and you only get the promised result if you eat their foods? Is there a conflict of interest?

Most people never think about this stuff, so as part of my goal to educate you and help you make good choices, I want to open your eyes to what’s really going on. The Dairy Council telling you it’s healthy to drink milk (it’s not) is trying to sell you milk. The Tums commercials telling you Tums are a good source of calcium (it’s not) are trying to sell you Tums. The yogurt commercials telling you how healthy yogurt is are trying to sell you yogurt. Get the picture yet? This is called marketing. These companies are in business to make money, and if they can convince you that their product is good for you, maybe you’ll buy it. Whether it’s good for you or not.

We tend to forget that commercials are just that – advertisements to create commerce, or you giving those companies your money. So before you get all excited about the hottest new supplement or diet fad, stop and think about it and who’s promoting it. Are they looking out for what’s best for them, or what’s best for you?

FREE Food Mistakes Guide

5 BIG Food Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Get It Now!